If you still have plants vulnerable to frost outside, bring them in when frost threatens. If they lose their leaves, continue to water lightly. Most plants quickly develop new leaves after such a traumatic change in their environment, but some such as lemon verbena, may remain dormant and leafless for a while.
Many folks overwinter geraniums in their unheated garage, watering lightly once a month. Im not going to overwinter geraniums any longer because in spring they never really look very good, and local nurseries have such beautiful, well-developed plants I prefer just to buy new ones as long as I can.
Geraniums in the garage dont need any light source, but they need to be kept from freezing. Ive overwintered them in the greenhouse without supplemental lighting.
The low angle of the sun and the shorter daylight hours may account for the puny appearance of my plants.
I have overwintered chile plants in the greenhouse (technically theyre perennials and so are tomatoes). Bell peppers do not thrive even in the heated greenhouse. Leaves of other Capsicums are smaller, and they survive and emerge the following spring in about the same condition as they were in the previous autumn, even those that have dropped their leaves and grown new ones. Some even bloom and set fruit in the greenhouse.
Ive recently heard of complaints that some super hot chiles didnt grow in our climate. Ive grown dozens of varieties over the years, and the only one that never set fruit was the Rocoto or Manzano, the chile with black seeds. Ive been told that that native of the Andes requires some shade in afternoons, and I havent tried that yet.
Of the super hot chiles, those that thrived and set abundant fruit were Fatalii, Chocolate Habanero (especially the long chocolate habanero), and some of the cayenne types from India and that area. Thai and Vietnamese chiles also produce good crops here.
You may be able to save shipping costs and the cost of a required number from mail-order sources if you telephone some of the local nurseries and ask if theyre growing varieties you want. I know Katie at Edwards Greenhouse has been growing some very interesting varieties of herbs and vegetables including chiles.
Both Cross Country Nurseries (www.chileplants.com) and the Chile Woman (www.thechilewoman.com) ship vigorous thriving plants of a huge number of varieties.
Their holdings do differ, though. Chile Woman carries some varieties Cross Country doesnt, and vice versa.
Seed sellers of interesting varieties include Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (www.rareseeds.com), Adaptive Seeds (www.adaptiveseeds.com), Nichols Garden Nursery (www.nicholsgardennursery.com), and Native Seeds/SEARCH (www.nativeseeds.org), for instance.
Margaret Lauterbach: email@example.com or write to Gardening, The Idaho Statesman, P.O. Box 40, Boise, ID 83707